In 2005 children’s toys were being used by American soldiers on the front lines, to help them look for roadside bombs. It would appear that someone took notice, because there has since been a flurry of activity on the robotic explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) front. The Man Transportable Robotic System program took off, and its military ground robots began making a difference long before protected MRAP vehicles began to arrive in numbers.
The Academy-award winning movie “The Hurt Locker” made bomb disposal famous, but the reality of it involves far more robots, and far fewer wearable bomb suits. MTRS robots are the larger, heavy duty options for Explosives Ordnance Disposal technicians, though smaller options are also in service. So, what exactly is the MTRS program?
In December 2011, Avon Protection Systems, Inc. in Cadillac, MI won a 5-year, $176.4 million firm-fixed-price contract to make M61 filter canisters for the new M50 Joint Service General Purpose Mask. Work will be performed in Cadillac, MI, and is expected to run until Dec 22/16. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 6 bids received by U.S. Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD (W911SR-12-D-0001).
The new M50 mask is designed to be more compact, lighter, more comfortable and more effective than the older M40. When worn in conjunction with a MOPP suit, the mask allows over 24 hours of protection against chemical or biological agents and radioactive particulates. Improvements include a single cast, optically correct visor with a wider field of view than the previous twin-lens design, and a twin conformal filter for a 50% improvement in breathing resistance. Anyone who has ever tried heavy physical exertion in a gas mask understands how much that improvement means. The convenient integrated 3L Camelbak for drinking, and clip-on sunglasses or corrective lenses, will also be appreciated.
Through the Co-operative Threat Reduction program, the Department of Defense provides equipment, services, and technical advice to Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine to assist them in eliminating (or in the case of Russia, reducing) the weapons of mass destruction remaining from the Soviet era, and preventing proliferation. That means dismantling the associated infrastructure, or transforming portions of it to engage in peaceful civilian activities.
The U.S. objectives in the CTR program as established by Congress are to cooperate with the Newly Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union to:
The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has undertaken an R&D effort to provide an integrated approach to combating weapons of mass destruction (WMD) known as the Research and Development Enterprise [PDF]. Their efforts are aimed at improving situational awareness about the WMD threat, controlling WMD materials and systems worldwide, reducing the threat to US troops, protecting the homeland, transforming the US nuclear deterrent, and controlling the threat of loose nuclear weapons in the world.
As part of this effort, DTRA awarded a contract April 18/11 worth up to $600 million to TASC in Chantilly, VA to provide advisory services to the agency’s effort in this area…
Up to $1.7 billion to CSC, Sparta, and General Dynamics for infrastructure and deployment services for the US Ballistic Missile Defense System under the MDA’s Engineering and Support Services (MiDAESS) program.
Debt Buyback: Northrop Grumman to purchase $2.1 billion in debt securities of its Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding and Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. subsidiaries.
A Flare for Flares: ATK snags $71 million contract to supply aircraft-deployed LUU-2D/B visible light illumination flares and LUU-19B/B infrared energy illumination flares for battlefield operations.
Can you hear me now?: ManTech receives a $68 million contract to build and deploy an expeditionary cell phone system for the US Army’s forward bases in Afghanistan.
Midwest Research Institute gets $35.5 million order to supply a test system for chemical weapon contamination at the US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.
The Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head, MD awarded 2 performance-based, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, multiple-award, cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts worth up to $87.6 million to provide engineering and demilitarization of munitions.
Under the contracts, the winning bidders will provide analytical engineering and technical support services, analysis of requirements, assessments, data analysis/management, technical support, and program management support for the US Navy and other Department of Defense (DoD) and non-DoD customers.
EG&G Defense Materials, a division of URS Corp., in Tooele, UT received a $181.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Phase 2 chemical agent munitions disposal system (CAMDS) closure as well as CAMDS & Deseret Chemical Depot secondary waste and nerve gas tabun (GA)/Lewisite disposal.
The US Army’s CAMDS, located at Deseret Chemical Depot, ceased chemical munitions disposal in 2005. Initial closure activities were carried out by the Tennessee Valley Authority, who was replaced by private contractor EG&G Defense Materials.
The closure process is currently in phase II, with equipment already removed from the buildings. More detailed closure plans are being written for CAMDS and final closure is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2012…
The US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) awarded 10 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts for CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive) support services at Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.
ECBC is the USA’s principal research and development center for non-medical chemical and biological defense. The center develops technology in the areas of CBRNE detection, protection, and decontamination, and provides support over the entire lifecycle – from basic research through technology development, engineering design, equipment evaluation, product support, sustainment, field operations and disposal.
The 10 ID/IQ contracts have a 5-year period of performance and a total value of $485 million for all awardees. Work will be performed at ECBC facilities on Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, at contractor offices, and at other customer sites as required.
To destroy chemical weapons, the US Army can’t just throw them in an incinerator. They have to be destroyed carefully so that no harmful chemicals are released into the air or water supplies.
In 2009, the US Army, working with the National Research Council (NRC), tested 4 technologies – 3 private-vendor systems and 1 Army-developed explosive destruction system (EDS) – to destroy chemical weapons. Tests were conducted at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky and the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado.
The developers of one of the systems tested – US-based Versar and Japan’s Kobe Steel – announced [pdf] Feb 9/10 that they received a $13 million subcontract from URS Corp. to deliver their Detonation in a Vacuum Assisted Chamber (DAVINCH) system to the Deseret Chemical Depot in Tooele, UT for chemical weapons destruction. In addition to supplying the system, Versar will provide project management at the depot.
The Army testing revealed some interesting facts about the DAVINCH system…